VALDOSTA — City officials, government employees and residents gathered to celebrate the promotions of 13 Valdosta Police Department personnel earlier this week at the city hall annex building.

Police Chief Leslie Manahan called each officer up to reward them with a badge and new rank. A family member then pinned the badge to the officer.

Manahan said the promotions should better prepare the department for the future.

“This group of officers demonstrated the skills and discipline needed to be effective leaders,” Manahan said. “I am certainly proud to have them as members of the city’s police force.”

She said it was an emotional moment for her and her fellow police officers. She has watched many of the officers grow up and has worked side by side with many of them.

"To see them reach this point in their careers really means a lot," she said.

During the ceremony, Officer Matthew DelaCruz was awarded the Life Saving Award. On Mother’s Day, DelaCruz responded to a domestic dispute, where the victim was stabbed in the neck with a knife.

When DelaCruz arrived on scene, he found the victim bleeding profusely from his jugular vein in his neck.

He immediately provided pressure to the wound with his fingers to stop the bleeding, while waiting for the fire department and EMS to take the person to the hospital.   

DelaCruz rode in the ambulance, continuing to provide direct pressure to the wound.

“Because of Officer DelaCruz providing first aid and direct pressure to the victim’s neck, the victim survived the attack and was able to identify the offender,” Manahan said. 

The full list of promotions observed at the ceremony includes:

Promotion to commander: Cmdr. Matt Osteen. 

Promotion to captain: Capt. Tomas Chavarria and Capt. Brent Johnson.

Promotion to lieutenant: Lt. Alex Adair, Lt. Scottie Johns and Lt. Holly Vickers.

Promotion to school resources officer sergeant: Sgt. Sabrina Smith.

Promotion to sergeant: Sgt. Bucky Griffin, Sgt. Zachary Stites, Sgt. Vincent Altobello, Sgt. Jeff Stokes and Sgt. James Hinson.

Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256

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